The SOMM Journal

February / March 2017

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Page 26 of 116

The Aryballe Technologies NeOse Pro is a French-designed handheld e-nose that uses surface plasmon resonance imaging (SPRi) and biochemical sensors to analyze volatile organic compounds responsible for aroma and taste. { scents & accountability } MANY WHO CONSIDER THE SENSORY EVALUATION of wine to be a purely sub- jective exercise cite our differences in perception as the basis for that belief. While it's true that our abilities to perceive aromas and tastes vary, using an olfactometer we're able to accurately measure the thresholds at which different tasters perceive the volatile organic compounds found in wine. Research has also shown that a like group of tasters, those who are equal to the task, can consistently gauge the intensities of the aromas, tastes and structural aspects of wine. Compared to humans, who scientists believe can detect in excess of one trillion odors and identify a few thousand, the latest gen - eration of olfactory and gustatory biosensors can detect up to 350 smells in about 15 seconds. Developed by a molecular biologist and nanobioscientist in Grenoble, France, the Aryballe Technologies NeOse Pro, a handheld e-nose that made its debut at the Consumer Electronics Show this January, uses surface plas - mon resonance imaging (SPRi) and biochemical sensors to analyze volatile organic compounds responsible for aroma and taste. In addition to facilitating the sensory study of wine, standardized devices like NeOse Pro are destined for dozens of applications, from helping people with anosmia (loss of sense of smell) to home automation and diagnosing disease. Even with better tools at our disposal for measuring perception and sensory thresh - olds, we're still relying primarily on the thresholds of individual tasters in the form of numerical scores to assess wine quality. Accurately perceiving quality relies pri- marily on knowing where your thresholds are. The lowest concentration of an odorant that you can detect is your odor detection threshold. Likewise, your recognition threshold is the lowest concentra - tion of an odorant that you can recognize. Based on the example cited above, the difference in the two thresholds is vast. So what can we do to close the gap? By training with odorants that have both low and high thresholds, we can learn to accurately gauge their intensities in wine. Take vanilla, which has a very low odor threshold; it's a compound that can be smelled and appreciated at high levels of intensity without losing its appeal. But many of the compounds found in wine that have low odor thresholds, including pyrazines, thiols and various mercaptans, have very pungent and negative odors at high concentrations. Vanilla can be detected at 100 parts per billion (ppb) and at the perception threshold, 50 percent of tasters The Good, the Bad and the Ugly BRETTANOMYCES AND VOLATILE ACIDITY by Deborah Parker Wong PHOTO COURTESY OF ARYBALLE TECHNOLOGIES 26 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } FEBRUARY/MARCH 2017

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